GOING GREEN – March 2024

By Diana Barnett

We’ve done the Big Garden Bird Watch, how about doing the Big Plastic Count? Sign up to record just how much plastic rubbish comes into your home in the week of 11th – 17th March – you’ll be surprised by the results. htpps://www.thebigplasticcount.com

We all know we have a problem with plastic waste. Plastic pollution is found everywhere – in oceans, rivers, soil and sediments, in the atmosphere and in animal biomass. The rapid growth of plastic production and use, combined with the ‘throw away’ culture has meant that waste management systems globally do not have the capacity to safely dispose of our recycle waste plastic.

So here’s a suggestion, take your own paper bags to the supermarket for your fruit and veg. Try to use the refill shops in the town for household cleaners. Ask and keep asking the supermarkets and big companies like Boots why they don’t stock refills for many of their products. If enough of us change our shopping habits the big companies, who generate the most waste, will realise they are not serving their customers or the environment well.

Discarded plastic destroys habitats and kills living beings. When was the last time you walked anywhere in Henley or the surrounding countryside and did not see some plastic littering the ground? Anyone remember the bins in Cornish laybys with signage saying “Mrs Baggitt says take your rubbish home with you!” Or the successful Keep Britain Tidy campaign? We took it to heart as kids and for most of us it would be unthinkable to drop litter. Somehow we have forgotten to pass this important learning on – maybe it’s time we revived the civil education scheme. How about a Keep Henley Tidy campaign?

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Greener Henley have started planning for Henley’s Great Big Green Week. We are working on lots of ideas but here’s a date we would like you to put in your diary. Saturday 8 th June we are having a Nature Discovery Day at Mill and Marsh Meadows where we will be getting to know our non-human neighbours right on our doorstep. We are planning a day of activities where you can go on walking talks about wild flowers, meet a tree trail, safaris to identify butterflies and moths, bug hunts, pond dipping, experts on tap and giving away plants and seeds for making your own mini nature reserves for our Nature Squared campaign. It’s from 10 – 2 on Mill Meadows near the path to the museum. Come along, bring family and friends, bring a picnic too and make a day of it.

There are lots of other interesting events in the pipeline for the week. If you care about the climate and our environment and have an idea for something you or your organisation would like to do, please get in touch and we’ll work with you. Volunteers are always welcome too – just send us an email at [email protected] .

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I recently heard a talk given by Rob Hopkins of Transition Towns fame. This talk was about imagining a better future, focusing on the year 2030 and what we would really like to see happening by asking the question ‘What if?’

For example, what if instead of residential streets being blocked by parked cars and traffic they were full of greenery and birdsong and children playing? What if schools and colleges turned some of their grassed areas into vegetable plots where students worked together growing good organic food to be served in their canteens? What if we used the skills and resources in our community to repair and recycle our broken or unneeded goods? What if you could take your ancient dryer that’s given up the ghost and some clever person would strip it down, sort its component parts and make something else useful from it? All these things and more have been achieved in other towns and cities around Europe – there’s no reason why Henley can’t make dreams such as these a reality.

Jeremy Rifkin the author of my current reading (The Age of Resilience) on first encounter would seem the complete opposite to Rob Hopkins. He is an academic, writer and the president of Foundation on Economic Trends in Washington D.C. and advises heads of states worldwide. He sees a future of sweeping economic and social shifts where productivity and GDP give way to regenerativity and quality of life indicators. Consumerism, corporate conglomerates and globalization all whither while ‘eco-stewardship’, high tech co-operatives and ‘glocalisation’ flourish. Thank goodness we have such dreamers!

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